Depending on your outlook, the financial services industry is either an incredibly scary or extremely exciting place to be right now. More than any other industry, financial services companies are facing a paradigm shift brought on by the perfect storm of digitalization, increased regulatory scrutiny and changing demographic profiles and preferences of both clients and…
It’s not always easy to figure out when a new brand direction is needed. For many companies, the brand they build in the early stages of their business can often stay in place for years – long after the organization has evolved beyond its original offering and strategy. Which means that, down the line, they often find themselves stuck with a brand that feels long past its sell-by date.
Our client, LPL Financial, was a prime example of a company who’s brand had yet to catch up to what they had become – or reflect their vision for the future.
LPL, a leading financial services company, had successfully established itself as the nation’s largest independent broker dealer since its founding in 1989. But through organic business development as well as acquisitions, the company had evolved to become much more – acting as a full-service partner helping independently-minded financial advisors and institutions with every aspect of running a practice. They were also weighed down by legacy perceptions of the offering that were no longer accurate as new leadership continued to redefine LPL’s culture, service levels, and strategy for the future.
The time was right to establish an inspiring new brand to act as the face of the new LPL – one that could tell a bigger story to better reflect its offering, make a compelling emotional connection with advisors, and stand out in an incredibly competitive marketplace.
Build a unique, emotive value proposition through brand strategy
Once you decide the time is right to bring your brand up to date, it’s essential to start with research to understand current market dynamics and audience needs. In LPL’s case, a thorough research process made it clear that – despite a swathe of strong household brands in this space – LPL’s evolved offering suite was unmatched by competitors. Going far beyond the traditional realms of a broker-dealer, LPL’s comprehensive support to advisors in every area of their practice meant they weren’t simply leading the pack – they were defining a new category of partnership altogether. Likewise, their laser-focus on providing advisors with true “independence” in a market where this is often promised but rarely delivered was game-changing – allowing advisors to benefit from LPL’s unparalleled support without compromising on their own autonomy.
In the face of these dynamics, we developed the brand idea “Feel free.” This emotive call-to-action was designed to encapsulate LPL’s dedication to true advisor independence, backed by best-in-class support. We also produced a robust suite of supporting messaging that built on this concept, positioning LPL as the visionary partner redefining the future of the industry – a future with advisors at the helm.
Create clarity and consistency with brand architecture
Another common by-product of organizational evolution is brand architecture complexity. For LPL, their rapid growth had led to an intricate and often confusing portfolio of solutions. To support the brand, it was critical to re-think their brand architecture in order to accurately reflect their evolved offering, and make it significantly easier to navigate.
Following a deep dive immersion into their portfolio, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research, and interactive workshops, we were able to define the strongest brand architecture solution for the future. The new architecture approach reframed LPL’s offering through three key offering platforms: investment solutions, business support solutions, and technology – all supported by their unique approach to partnership. By elevating these components, we were able to help LPL move beyond their historical perception as a broker-dealer, and promote clarity through a simple, intuitive structure.
Bring it to life with a visual identity that reflects the brand personality
A powerful brand strategy is one thing – but bringing it to life visually is just as critical. Particularly if a company’s brand has been in place for years, a rebrand can be a key opportunity to herald a new era for an organization.
Building on the personality traits from LPL’s new brand platform, we defined a visual language that balanced a bold, powerful style with touches that kept a friendly, warm feel. The result was a visual identity that positioned the firm as confident industry leaders with a pioneering vision – and a true dedication to advisor success. Leveraging logo, color palette, a distinctive illustration style, and bold typography, these distinctive traits came together to form a stand-out brand, in a market that tended to feel like a sea of sameness.
If your brand has been in place for decades, or your strategic direction has evolved to the extent that your story no longer feels relevant – it may be time to consider refreshing your brand. For LPL, taking advantage of this critical turning point has proved hugely successful. The rebrand has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from LPL leadership, employees, and advisors – and a follow-up advertising campaign is performing with record high engagement levels and click-through rates.
To learn more, contact us.
About the author
Jessica Stewart is a Senior Strategy Director at DeSantis Breindel. Jessica brings together research expertise and strategic vision to create award-winning brands and campaigns for worldwide B2B organizations.